Migrant Boat Sinks Off Tunisia, at Least Five Dead
Tunisia’s coast guard said it recovered the bodies of five migrants on Thursday whose boat sank as they tried to cross the Mediterranean to the Italian island of Lampedusa.Crews were now searching for another five Tunisians that relatives had said were also on the boat that set off this week from the southern coastal community of Zarzis, the coast guard added.Human traffickers are increasingly using Tunisia as a launch pad for migrants heading to Europe as the Libyan coast guard, aided by armed groups, has tightened controls.Many Tunisian migrants say they are fleeing high unemployment and inflation - part of an economic crisis that hit after the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.At least 80 migrants died when their boat sank off the Tunisian coast in June, one of the wo
Italy in New Migrant Boat Standoff with Malta
Italy on Friday urged Malta to go to the aid of an overcrowded boat carrying hundreds of migrants, only hours after the Italian president intervened to end a dispute within the ruling coalition over rescued immigrants.There have been two similar stand-offs with Malta since Italy's new populist government, which pairs the far-right League party with the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, took power on June 1.Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who is also leader of the League, said Italy would not take in the migrants because they were Malta's responsibility. Malta, a small island nation, has generally refused to take in large numbers of boat migrants.Italy has seen more than 650…
Italy, Malta Turn Away Migrant Rescue Boat
A Spanish aid group operating in the Mediterranean said on Tuesday one of its boats had been barred by Italy and Malta from disembarking migrants rescued two days ago. Humanitarian groups have played a growing role in rescuing migrants who pay criminal gangs for passage from Libya, prompting accusations in Italy that they are facilitating people smuggling and encouraging migration. The groups deny this. It was not clear why the Golfo Azzurro, run by Barcelona-based Proactiva Open Arms, was not allowed to dock in Lampedusa. It is now in international waters. The Italian coastguard could not be reached for comment. "Golfo Azzurro rescued three people 100 miles from the Libyan coast in an (Italian) coastguard operation 48 hours ago and we are still without authorisation to disembark…
Rescue Boat Seized for Allegedly Aiding Illegal Migration
Italian coastguards seized a migrant rescue boat operated by a German aid group in the Mediterranean due to suspicions it had aided illegal immigration, the police said on Wednesday. Video showed the "Iuventa", which is run by Jugend Rettet, arriving at the island of Lampedusa surrounded by several coastguard vessels after it was stopped at sea before dawn. The Jugend Rettet group said on Twitter its crew was being interviewed by officials, but had received no information about an investigation into its activities. "Our crew was guaranteed this is a standard process," said the group, which is one of around eight humanitarian organisations whose operations Italy is trying to regulate. It did not give any immediate comment on the police probe.
Three Dead, Thousands Rescued in Seas Off Libya
Three migrants died in the Mediterranean on Monday night, a German aid group said, during Italian-led rescue operations in which thousands more were pulled to safety from rickety boats. About 5,000 migrants were picked up off the Libyan coast by emergency services, Italy's navy, aid groups and private boats on Monday, and rescues were continuing on Tuesday, according to an Italian coastguard spokesman. "Despite all efforts, three people died from a sinking rubber boat" and rescue boats in the area are struggling to cope, German humanitarian group Jugend Rettet said on Facebook. Jugend Rettet (Rescuing Youth) is one of about nine aid…
Migrant Shipwreck Death Toll Lowered
Five migrants are believed to have died when a rubber boat sank off the coast of Libya on Tuesday, aid groups said on Friday, adding that reports earlier this week that many more had been killed were wrong. Probably still in shock after he was taken to the Italian island of Lampedusa, a 16-year-old Gambian boy told humanitarian workers on Wednesday he was the only survivor of the wreck, Cecile Pouilly, a spokeswoman for the UNHCR, told reporters. When 140 others disembarked at a different port on Thursday, several identified the boy as having been on the same boat. "So we have pretty good information that this tragedy didn't occur as was initially reported," said Joel Millman, spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.
Rescuers Save 301 Boat Migrants in Med
Rescuers pulled 301 boat migrants to safety and found five dead bodies in five operations in the central Mediterranean on Wednesday, the Italian Coast Guard said. An Irish navy ship recovered the five dead from a rubber boat along with 118 survivors. Humanitarian group Life Boat saved 130 people from another rubber boat. Overnight, Italian Coast Guard vessels rescued 18 people from a wooden boat near the southern island of Pantelleria, a further 11 near the uninhabited island of Lampione, and 24 more off the coast of Lampedusa Island on Wednesday morning. The central Mediterranean route between North Africa and Italy is the deadliest border in the world for migrants.
More than 11,000 Migrants Rescued off Libya this Week
More than 5,000 migrants were saved on Tuesday and Wednesday off the Libyan coast and 28 bodies recovered, bringing the total number of people rescued this week to more than 11,000, Italy's coast guard said. More than 20 people were reported to have suffocated in the hold of one overloaded fishing boat, bringing the total death toll for Monday and Tuesday to 50. Italian officials said three women saved on Monday had given birth over the past 24 hours on a coast guard vessel that was bringing some 1,000 refugees to Sicily. The women and their three children were all reported to be in good health. The coast guard said the 4,655 migrants rescued on Tuesday were taken from 33 overcrowded boats…
Nearly 11,000 Migrants Rescued in Last 48 hours off Libya
Many bodies found in the hold of one ship. More than 4,650 migrants were saved on Tuesday off the Libyan coast and 28 bodies recovered, bringing the total number of people rescued in the last 48 hours to nearly 11,000, Italy's coast guard said on Wednesday. More than 20 people were reported to have suffocated in the hold of one overloaded fishing boat, bringing the total death toll for Monday and Tuesday to 50. Italian officials said three women saved on Monday had given birth over the past 24 hours on a coast guard vessel that was bringing some 1,000 refugees to Sicily. The women and their three children were all reported to be in good health.
Over 6,000 Migrants Plucked from Sea in a Single Day, Nine Dead
About 6,055 migrants were rescued on Monday as they tried to reach Europe on about 40 boats, one of the highest numbers in a single day, Italy's coast guard said. A statement said at least nine migrants had died and a pregnant woman and a child had been taken by helicopter to a hospital on the Italian island of Lampedusa, halfway between Sicily and the Libyan coast. One coast guard ship rescued about 725 migrants on a single rubber boat, one of some 20 rescue operations during the day. About 10 ships from the coast guard, the navy and humanitarian organisations were involved in the rescues, most of which took place some 30 miles off the coast of Libya. Monday was the third anniversary of the sinking of a migrant boat off Lampedusa in which 386 people died.
Italy Rescues Nearly 1,800 Migrants in Mediterranean
Italian vessels have helped rescue nearly 1,800 migrants from boats trying to reach Italy from north Africa in the last 24 hours, the navy said on Friday, indicating that numbers are rising as the weather warms up. The navy said 1,759 migrants were rescued in 10 operations involving the Italian navy, coastguard and finance police, the European Union's external borders agency Frontex and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The Italian frigate Grecale was taking the migrants to the Sicilian port of Augusta, where they were expected to arrive on Saturday morning, a navy statement said. It gave no details of their nationalities.
Italian Ship Rescues 26 Migrants off Libya
An Italian merchant ship rescued 26 migrants off the coast of Libya in rough seas and others were feared missing, the Coast Guard said on Saturday. The Coast Guard received a call from a satellite telephone on Friday but no voice was heard. It tracked the signal to a location about seven miles off the Libyan coast, a spokesman said. An Italian merchant vessel in the area was diverted and on Friday night rescued the 26 from a rubber boat that had taken on water. The spokesman said…
Berlin film "Fire at Sea" shows Horror of Refugee Crossings
BERLIN, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Images shot in the hold of a boat where dozens of people died of asphyxiation after five hours in the Mediterranean brought home the horror of the refugee crisis in the film "Fuocoammare" (Fire at Sea) shown at the Berlin film festival on Saturday. A theme of this year's festival is to encourage the world to help and welcome refugees. Director Gianfranco Rosi's harrowing two-hour documentary, which is in competition for the top Golden Bear prize, underscores the urgency of the problem.
Italian Navy Takes Back Fishing Boat Seized Near Libya
The Italian navy took back control on Friday of a Sicilian fishing boat that had been seized overnight by unknown assailants near the Libyan coast, the defence ministry said. The stretch of Mediterranean Sea has grown increasingly chaotic in recent years as hundreds of thousands of people risk the dangerous journey to Europe to escape conflicts in Libya, other parts of North Africa and the Middle East. A defence ministry statement said naval personnel boarded the trawler soon after it was stopped by a tugboat around 90 km (55 miles) from the Libyan port of Misrata. The ministry did not immediately say whether there was any clash with those who had seized the Italian trawler or what happened to them or the seven crew on the vessel after the navy reasserted control.
700+ Migrants Killed in Shipwreck 'the Worst Mediterranean Massacre'
More than 700 migrants are feared to have drowned 'like rats in cages' on a smuggler boat because they were locked in the hold when it capsized off the Libyan and sank in the Mediterranean sea. The African migrants, who are thought to have included women and children, were crammed into a 66ft fishing boat when the tragedy happened near the Italian island of Lampedusa. The disaster struck in the early hours when refugees saw a ship coming to their rescue and rushed to one side of the boat, said the UN High Commission for Refugees.
UN Security Council Concerned by Mediterranean Migrant Smuggling
The United Nations Security Council expressed grave concern on Tuesday at the growth in people smuggling in the Mediterranean Sea and deplored Sunday's deadly shipwreck of migrants trying to reach Europe that may have killed as many as 900 people. The large boat capsized off the coast of Libya as it was trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. More than 36,000 people have tried to cross the Mediterranean this year, the U.N. says, most fleeing from Libya. "The members of the Security Council expressed their grave concern at the recent proliferation of, and endangerment of lives by, the smuggling of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Libya," the 15-member body said in a statement.
IMO Head Predicts Surge in Med Migrants
Koji Sekimizu, secretary-general of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) said that number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean could surge to 500,000 this year with thousands of deaths at sea if no action is taken against the people who traffic them, says a report by AFP. "If we do nothing, we will see half a million of migrants crossing over the Mediterranean and we will see probably 10,000 of deaths if that is the case," Sekimizu warned. More than 170,000 migrants crossed the Mediterranean into Europe last year, with 3,000 of them perishing at sea, according to Sekimizu.
Thousands of Migrants Rescued in Mediterranean
The Italian coastguard has said it had coordinated the rescue of thousands of migrants as they sailed across the Mediterranean on rickety boats, bringing the number of people rescued this weekend to 5,800. The migrants were to be taken to the Italian region of Calabria as well as the islands of Sicily and Lampedusa, it said. The bodies of eight migrants were found on board two of the rescued vessels. Two other people drowned after they jumped into the sea to rush towards the rescue teams, the coastguard said.
Libya's Coast Guard Detains Almost 600 African Migrants
Libya's coast guard detained on Wednesday almost 600 illegal African migrants, among them pregnant women and 18 children, who had tried to sail to Europe on a fishing boat, a security official said. The North African country, gripped by violence and a breakdown of state authority four years after the ousting of Muammar Gaddafi, has turned into a major hub for human traffickers smuggling African migrants by boat to Italy. As many as 900 people may have died last month off Libya's coast when their packed boat capsized as they were trying to reach the Italian island of Lampedusa. Many thousands more have managed to make the crossing in an almost daily exodus of boats.
Mediterranean Shipwreck Crew Not to Face Kidnapping Charge
Two smugglers arrested over the deaths of hundreds drowned in the Mediterranean's most deadly shipwreck in decades will not be charged with kidnapping because assertions that migrants had been locked below deck had proved wrong, an Italian prosecutor said on Tuesday. The two face homicide charges over the sinking of a 20-metre fishing boat last month that killed some 800 migrants. The incident also raised international alarm about attempts by thousands to flee across the Mediterranean from Libya in often ramshackle boats. Italy will undertake the expensive and difficult operation of pulling up the vessel from the sea bed where it lies at a depth of around 375 metres (1,235 feet), 135 km (85 miles) north of Libya, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said on Tuesday.
5 Tunisian Migrants Die in Shipwreck
At least five Tunisian migrants died on Saturday when their boat sailing to Italy capsized off the Tunisian coast, officials said. "A migrant boat carrying dozens capsized on Saturday off the coast of Monastir ... Naval forces rescued 49 Tunisian migrants and recovered five bodies of Tunisian migrants," a naval official told Reuters. Boat smugglers make use of Tunisia's proximity to the Italian island of Lampedusa to ship migrants there, with Tunisian authorities rescuing dozens of people travelling in unsafe boats in the past few weeks.
Tunisia Rescues 350 Migrants Heading to Italy from Libya
Tunisia's navy rescued more than 350 illegal migrants off its coast and was searching for hundreds more on Wednesday after they tried to sail from neighbouring Libya to the Italian island of Lampedusa, the local Red Cross said. Boat smugglers often use Tunisia's proximity to the Italian coast to ship migrants there. Tunisian authorities have rescued dozens of people travelling in unsafe boats in recent months. "Naval forces have rescued at least 350 clandestine migrants off the coast near Ben Guerdane in an old boat that left from Libya," local Red Cross representative Abd el Karim Rguiyi told Reuters. "Among them are Syrians and families, Africans. Ben Guerdane is a coastal town just across the border from Libya and not far from the tourist island resort of Djerba.
12 Migrants Drown, 500 Rescued in Mediterranean
Twelve migrants died on Thursday when their overcrowded rubber dinghy sank off the coast of Libya, the Italian Coast Guard said, while some 500 were rescued in the latest episodes in the Mediterranean migrant crisis. The corpses of the victims were found in the sea by the Coast Guard ship Dattilo some 40 miles north of Libya, a Coast Guard spokesman said. The Dattilo saved 106 people from the same dinghy, which was "half submerged" when help arrived. The Dattilo is still involved in other rescue operations involving boats in difficulty, the spokesman said. A total of 393 other migrants were saved in four different operations carried out by the Dattilo on Thursday. Another 106 migrants were saved by two Coast Guard frigates operating off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.